Doctors believe that Bill Allshire may have contracted the infection from a mosquito bite while on a sun holiday.
Miraculously he survived, but only after surgeons amputated his left leg.
Bill, a 72-year-old grandfather and former owner of the Devonshire Arms Hotel in Youghal, has spent a lot of time holidaying in Majorca since retiring.
He believes he might have contracted the infection up to two years ago, as it can lie dormant before striking.
“Over the past two years I knew my left leg was never 100%. Around the end of last February, while on holiday in Majorca, I wasn’t feeling at all well. I was in bed and went to get up, but I just kept falling back,” he said.
Friends on the holiday isle got hold of a local doctor and rushed to his aid.
“The doctor took one look at me and told me to go straight to the emergency department. Once there I was immediately put on antibiotics. Surgeons carried out a three-and-a-half hour operation to open up my leg. One of them told me he was sorry, but I had less than two hours to live,” Bill said.
The news made him quiver, but “the peace of God then came over me”.
Doctors decided the poison was rising to his heart and the only outside chance was to immediately amputate the leg. “Amazingly I got through it. They told me it was touch and go,” he said.
Bill got an artificial leg in May and is undertaking intensive physiotherapy.
“I couldn’t speak highly enough of the St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, especially of Mr Dubont, who made the leg, and Frances Walsh, who is giving me physiotherapy,” Bill said.
He’s anxious to set up a helpline for Irish people who have contracted flesh-eating bugs and wants to talk to fellow victims.
Anybody wishing to contact Bill, who lives in Carrigaline, Co Cork, can ring 021-4371931.